Mourning with Margie for Bumblebees
Margie’s children are always cautioning her, “Take it easy, Ma!” “Don’t push yourself so hard!” “Rest!”
“Time enough to rest when I’m dead,” she tells me. She feels it’s right to push, because if she doesn’t push, how will she know where her limits are? So she walks a little further than they feel is wise. She reads till her eyes glaze over. She consumes the New York Times daily, even when it’s godawful depressing and there is nothing she can do about the violence in India or planetary apocalypse.
"Go on and push!" she advises. "If you quit pushing and just lie around, you might as well be dead already." She tells me she needs more exercise for her aging brain. She likes Mahjong and plays with a group in her condo once a week, but crosswords bore her. Computer games don’t engage her. I suggested Blipfoto, and she agreed to go for it. I offered to set her up with a journal on her phone, but we ran into forty minutes of frustration. She couldn’t think of a journal name that hadn’t been used before, and every time she tried a journal name, the system threw out her registration and her last password and made her start over and pick a new password, and finally we got into a loop in which the computer asked for her email, she gave it, and it said that email was already registered but we didn't have the right password. We gave up. She said she'll start keeping a paper journal. One of many things we agree on: we despise passwords.
She brought me a page from the New York Times with a number of excellent photographs of bees against a black background, with an article about Bumblebees that ends, “These species used to be much more common. They are the ghosts from the childhoods of baby boomers in Europe and North America.”
That reminded us of the Bumblebees of our childhoods, when we were closer to the ground ourselves: big-eyed fat fuzzy presences slowly tottering around wildflowers, buzzing loudly, pollen clinging to their hairs. We hardly ever see a Bumblebee now. Neither of us has spotted one in years. We sat in quiet mourning for Bumblebees, sipping ginger-and-turmeric chai.
The photo is a dwarf cypress about two feet high in a garden I pass on the way to meet Margie. No relation to our conversation.